Page 1
Beauty Style Fitness Wellness Living #RealTalk #EmbraceYourAge
Stay up to date

Get on the List

Unlock our weekly newsletter packed with tips on living authentically, healthfully, and stylishly at every age.Get on the List: The best beauty, fashion, wellness and fitness tips straight to your inbox

7 Questions About Hot Flashes Answered

Hot flashes, night sweats, cold flashes, and chills. We asked Dr. JoAnn Pinkerton, executive director of the North American Menopause Society, about the what, whys, and what-to-dos of erratic temperature fluctuations during perimenopause.

What are hot and cold flashes, and why do we get them?

About 80 percent of 10 women get them, but for 20 to 30 percent of those women, they’re brutal. Women who get hot flashes have more sensitive thermostats in their brain, so they get hot or cold within a narrower range of temperatures. For pre-menopausal women who are symptomatic, the shivering threshold is higher and the sweating threshold is lower — meaning the thermostat zone is reduced — so that even slight changes in core body temperature can cause a hot flash or sweating, or a cold flash or chills. For most women, hot flashes feel like a warmth spreading up and over them. But for those unfortunate few, they may feel like a burning or intense heat over the upper body along with severe sweating or soaking night clothes and sheets.

What triggers hot flashes?

Hot flashes occur due to hormonal changes, when the body believes it is too hot and chemicals from the brain cause the blood vessels to dilate. Unfortunately, it is not known why some women have severe hot flashes, while others have no hot flashes or mild ones that resolve quickly. The suspected triggers are hot food and drinks, caffeine, alcohol (particularly red wine), spicy foods, and poor air movement.

What are the best ways to cope when perimenopause turns up the heat?

Staying cool and reducing stress will help you handle hot flashes. Keep your room cool and use a fan. Avoid triggers. Wear breathable clothing in layers, so you can add or remove easily as needed. And when you begin to get a hot flash, try taking slow, deep breaths; take off a layer of clothing; drink something cold; or put a cold washcloth on the back of your neck.

Be prepared for different scenarios. If you’re shopping for groceries and a hot flash strikes, head to the freezer section and pick up a piece of ice. You could also buy a cold drink and hold the can or bottle on your neck. Alternatively, buy in a portable pocket fan and carry it with you wherever you go. Exercise regularly — but not too close to bedtime — and reduce stress with activities such as meditation, yoga, qigong, tai chi, biofeedback, acupuncture, and massage.

What causes night sweats, tossing and turning, and soaking through the bedsheets?

Many women have night sweats, but sleep disruption is more common — both difficulty falling asleep and waking up multiple times during the night. This is because dream sleep (REM sleep) is disrupted and shortened due to a decline in estrogen levels. Body temperature peaks late in the afternoon and early morning hours — so if your thermostat is narrowed, you will be more likely to have hot flashes or sweats at those times. Bioidentical hormones can improve sleep, diminishing disruptions and increasing REM.

Why do we heat up so fast and chill so quickly?

It’s not uncommon to feel excessively hot with an urgent need to cool down, and then not too long afterward feel chilled and want to be in front of a heater. The narrowed temperature zone on both sides, hot and cold, is caused by hormone fluctuations.

What causes cold flashes and chills?

If you’re suddenly very cold despite a warm room, this could be a cold flash. When the part of your brain responsible for regulating your body temperature is overactive, your body can shed too much heat and chills occur. It’s because chemicals cause your brain to raise the normal temperature set point, which causes you to feel cold and shiver to help your body’s temperature rise to meet the new set point. A cold flash may follow a hot flash or occur by itself. It can be triggered by a cold drink, cold weather, emotional chaos, or just a hormonal change.

Are there other potentially difficult or debilitating symptoms we should know about?

Some women have dizziness or heart palpitations with the hormonal fluctuations. Others may have mood changes, more irritability, or cry easily. Consult with your doctor for ways to address hot and cold flashes that work best for you.

Get more answers about the changes leading up to menopause here.

Photo: Fotojog

You Might Also Like

5 Hormone-Balancing Foods
Wellness

5 Hormone-Balancing Foods

Are your hormones out of whack? Often the best place to start...

read
37 Symptoms of Hormone Imbalance
Wellness

37 Symptoms of Hormone Imbalance

Hormones play an enormous role in how we look, think, and feel....

read
Eat This Now: Vegan Cornbread Dressing
Wellness

Eat This Now: Vegan Cornbread Dressing

We not only try to eat healthy, we try to be kind...

read
Women Who Inspire: Chef Babette Davis
Living

Women Who Inspire: Chef Babette Davis

It’s often said that behind every great man is a great woman,...

read
What to Do When Your Vagina Dries Up
Wellness

What to Do When Your Vagina Dries Up

Aging skin needs nourishing. That’s not news. But when it comes to...

read
6 Natural Remedies for Sinus Pain
Wellness

6 Natural Remedies for Sinus Pain

We’re all familiar with the typical triage of cold and flu symptoms:...

read
How to Get Started With Exercise at 75
Fitness

How to Get Started With Exercise at 75

When you hit your mid-70s, you may feel like your daily routine...

read
The Science-Based Solution for Aging Hair
Beauty

The Science-Based Solution for Aging Hair

There’s no question that our hair changes as we get older. It...

read
6 Questions With... Skin Care Pioneer Jane Iredale
Beauty

6 Questions With... Skin Care Pioneer Jane Iredale

Jane Iredale began Jane Iredale Mineral Cosmetics in New York in 1994. As a...

read
7 Reasons to Embrace Cardio
Fitness

7 Reasons to Embrace Cardio

Cardio is any form of exercise that raises your pulse and conditions...

read
Problem/Solution: Aging Teeth and Receding Gums
Beauty

Problem/Solution: Aging Teeth and Receding Gums

If your teeth are more dingy yellow than pearly white or you’ve...

read
Is Self-Love Overrated?
#RealTalk

Is Self-Love Overrated?

I’ve twice been told I have extraordinary arms. The first was in...

read
Office Hours: How Do I Work With a Boss Half My Age?
Living

Office Hours: How Do I Work With a Boss Half My Age?

Welcome to Office Hours, where each month, a Fairygodboss expert answers a question...

read
Fall’s Coziest Workout Gear
Fitness

Fall’s Coziest Workout Gear

Keep calm and exercise on in fall’s coziest workout gear. Whether a...

read
Beauty Buzzwords: Squalane
Beauty

Beauty Buzzwords: Squalane

Though oils are not new to the beauty counter, there is still...

read
7 Water-Gel Moisturizers for Troubled Skin
Beauty

7 Water-Gel Moisturizers for Troubled Skin

Combination skin that doesn’t take kindly to rich, thick creams doesn’t change...

read
Organic: Yay or Nay?
Wellness

Organic: Yay or Nay?

From food to beauty products, labels can be so confusing. Aren’t the...

read
Need to Know: Thyroid Health
Wellness

Need to Know: Thyroid Health

One of my patients recently summed up her experience succinctly: “I’m just...

read
‘Garden & Gun’ Showcases Strong Women Across Generations
Living

‘Garden & Gun’ Showcases Strong Women Across Generations

Unless you’re a subscriber of the publication Garden & Gun, you may...

read
WTF Is a #CuratedLife?
#RealTalk

WTF Is a #CuratedLife?

I have been working to figure out social media. God, is it...

read
Castor Oil: Your New Favorite Beauty Trick
Beauty

Castor Oil: Your New Favorite Beauty Trick

Move over, coconut oil, there’s a new sheriff in town. An elixir for...

read
You’re Not Too Old For ... Strength Training With Dumbbells
Fitness

You’re Not Too Old For ... Strength Training With Dumbbells

In our ongoing video series with trainer Julie Diamond, we focus on...

read
Tasty Fiber-Full Foods for Weight Loss
Wellness

Tasty Fiber-Full Foods for Weight Loss

Clinical evidence shows that fiber-full foods keep you feeling fuller longer with...

read
Get Glowing With 8 Highlighters We Love
Beauty

Get Glowing With 8 Highlighters We Love

The solution to chronic fatigue requires a holistic deep dive into your...

read
Eat This Now: Overnight Pumpkin Oatmeal
Wellness

Eat This Now: Overnight Pumpkin Oatmeal

We at The Fine Line eat lots of oatmeal. Especially in the...

read
Women Who Inspire: BRU Bone Broth Founder Soo-Ah Landa
Living

Women Who Inspire: BRU Bone Broth Founder Soo-Ah Landa

Some might say bone broth is having a moment, but don’t tell...

read
‘Gilmore Girls’ and Me
#RealTalk

‘Gilmore Girls’ and Me

The seven-season series Gilmore Girls and its four afterglow episodes, A Year in the Life,...

read
6 Good Reasons to Eat More Fiber
Wellness

6 Good Reasons to Eat More Fiber

Fiber is the indigestible part of a carbohydrate that packs a powerful...

read
Learn to Embrace Active Recovery Days
Fitness

Learn to Embrace Active Recovery Days

In today’s “go big or go home” mentality, it is easy to...

read
Give Yourself a Gray Hair Makeover
Beauty

Give Yourself a Gray Hair Makeover

As your hair’s pigment seemingly evaporates into thin air, you might notice...

read
Load More
share
To Top